shape-changing robots

The flower-like set of points represents all possible shapes the shape-changing robots can take on. In line with rattling theory, the most common shapes are also the most orderly with the lowest rattling (shown in blue). | Credit: Thomas A. Berrueta)

A team of physicists and engineers have proposed a new principle by which active matter systems can spontaneously order, without need for higher level instructions or even programmed interaction among the agents. And they have demonstrated this principle in a variety of systems, including groups of periodically shape-changing robots called “smarticles” – smart, active particles.

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